Shiv Sena (Marathi: Śiv Senā, meaning Shiva's Army, also SS), is a political organisation in India founded on 19 June 1966 by political cartoonist Bal Thackeray. The party originally emerged out of a movement in Mumbai demanding preferential treatment for Maharashtrians over migrants to the city. The party operates as a network of street gangs and has a powerful hold over the Bollywood film industry. It is currently headed by Thackeray's son, Uddhav Thackeray. Members of Shiv Sena are referred to as Shiv Sainiks.
Although the party's primary base is still in Maharashtra, it has tried to expand to a pan-Indian base. In the 1970s, it gradually moved from solely advocating a pro-Marathi ideology, to one supporting a broader Hindu nationalist agenda, as it aligned itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Its critics have described it as a "Hindu extremist" party. The party has taken part in numerous Maharashtra state governments at several times and was a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance cabinet that ruled India between 1998-2004.
According to Balakrishna, the public sector companies in response to Sena's violent pressure began employing Maharashtrians in large numbers; the company owners didn't object to the Sena entry into trade unionism since "Thackeray ruled like a dictator, one phone call was enough to ensure peace on the shop floor." The party's control over the Mumbai and Thane corporations bolstered the party financially. According to Balakrishna "as long as the Sena confined its activities to the Mumbai-Thane belt, Congress leaders like Murli Deora, who headed the party unit in Mumbai for two decades, never confronted the Sena". The threat to the Congress emerged after 1985, when the party aspired to form a government in Maharashtra. In 1995, after the 1993 riots in Mumbai in which Balakrishna alleges "Shiv Sena took part ... in a big way", which saw a polarisation of votes, the Shiv Sena/BJP alliance won state assembly elections and formed a government.